My ears suddenly perked up as I heard the teacher say, “Sometimes we refer to addiction as self-medication.” I’ll never forget the moment I was introduced to that concept. I was sitting in a graduate level class for students desiring to become addiction recovery counselors. I remember thinking, “That means the call to an addictive substance or behavior does not come out of nowhere. It comes out of a need to avoid or dull very real physical or emotional discomfort or pain.”
This understanding was reinforced when I read the first paragraph of LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program, A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing, “Many of us began our addictions out of curiosity. Some of us became involved because of a justifiable need for a prescription drug or as an act of deliberate rebellion. Many began this path when barely older than children. Whatever our motive for starting and our circumstances, we soon discovered that the addiction relieved more than just physical pain. It provided stimulation or numbed painful feelings or moods. It helped us avoid the problems we faced— or so we thought. For a while, we felt free of fear, worry, loneliness, discouragement, regret, or boredom. But because life is full of the conditions that prompt these kinds of feelings, we resorted to our addictions more and more often.”
As I participate in LDS Addiction Recovery Program meetings I often hear individuals share on the pains they have suffered and the relief that has come as they have taken a particular step. I wonder—if turning to addictive substances and behaviors is our attempt to self-medicate the personal pain that seems to be such a part of earth life, could it be that each one of the steps of recovery addresses a very specific painful or difficult aspect of our mortal experience? Maybe the war between addiction and recovery is a battle between the world’s prescription and the Lord’s prescription for pain.
Whether we struggle with addiction or not, we are all experiencing the pains of earth life and these 12 Steps represent powerful Gospel principles with potential to help any of us. If I simply let my mind wander through our family and around our the block and I see the pain of economic insecurity, the pain of being single, the pain of raising a family, the pain of trying to do all that seems needful in each day, the pain of children making poor choices, the pains associated with growing older, the pain of raising children born with infirmities. Even as I write today we have a new little baby in our family fighting for his life. I find it critical to my spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing to know where and how to deal with pain in a way that brings real lasting relief, the relief that comes through Jesus Christ.
Over the next few days I’m going to take a walk through each of the 12 Steps, examining each one for its pain relieving qualities. As you read you may want to keep in mind some painful aspect of your own situation and think about how each of the 12 Steps might bring relief.
(To be continued)
By Nannette W. Posted Tuesday, October17, 2011
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